For world-renowned Greek Australian concert violinist Niki Vasilakis, the album ‘Sacred’ started as a dream approximately 14 years ago, and contains a collaboration of songs, hymns and prayerful improvisation between Niki on violin and acclaimed jazz pianist Deanna Djuric.
I decided to make a recording that could be given as a gift to those going through a time of suffering and to be played to those in their final days to help prepare their hearts and bring peace to them.
The two talented musicians joined forces in order to bring together the sounds of worship and classical tradition in a beautiful, cohesive and powerful experience.
Once completed, it was Vasilakis’ idea to release the album at a concert she herself organised, with all proceeds going to Australia HOPE International, an organisation that provides a rescue house and services centre for young girls in Uganda.
“I wanted the launch of ‘Sacred’ to be something that wasn’t all about me but the people in need around me,” explains the humanitarian, who managed to raise $14,000 on the night of 20 August, as well as lots of new sponsorships from the generous community.
“I sponsor a little girl called Juliet, who was rescued two years ago,” says Vasilakis. “She lives in a rescue home with 16 other girls who are at risk due to the building they live in being unfinished, with no running water on site.”
The entire funds raised for Concert for HOPE went towards finishing the rescue house and towards building a skills training centre for the girls, in order to learn a skill to support themselves and end the poverty cycle in the community.
Vasilakis enjoys a career that spans the globe. She is currently regarded as being among the world’s most talented and exciting young soloists, while she was recently recognised as one of the 10 most inspirational women to ‘watch for’ due to her musical talent, as well as her extensive commitment to community work and volunteering.
She has performed as a soloist with the Sydney Symphony to an audience of more than 100,000 and was the winner of the String Final of the Symphony Australia Young Performers Award in 2003.
She has graced the pages of Vogue magazine, appeared in television productions and has performed her music in front of royalty and world leaders.
Yet the down to earth mother of three still felt the need to connect with people on a different level, and that was when her new album was born.
“‘Sacred’ is a collection of songs and hymns that have special meaning to me because they were all written as an act of reverence to God. I have been dreaming of recording this collection of meaningful songs of worship that have profoundly shaped my life for years but hadn’t had the chance to do so,” she says in an interview with Neos Kosmos.
The former Young South Australian of the Year (2008) reveals that all the hymns on the album are songs she has actually played around the world, but away from a concert stage, in all sorts of life situations.
“Churches, missions, outreaches in remote communities and especially at the bedside of many who have been sick and dying in their final days. These have been very sacred times in my life and the lives of others which is why the album is also named ‘Sacred’.”
According to Vasilakis, the real purpose of the album was refined five years ago while visiting a dear friend of hers who was in his final days.
“It is so hard to explain how special that experience was. I used to sit and play some of these hymns and songs for him and my friend was at such peace due to his deep faith in God, which profusely gave him an assurance about the end of his life being just the beginning. I’ve never experienced peace quite like it, being in that room and seeing how these sacred songs made such a difference to his experience of suffering and ultimately death.”
It was precisely that experience that shaped Vasilakis’ new album.
“I decided to make a recording that could be given as a gift to those going through a time of suffering and to be played to those in their final days to help prepare their hearts and bring peace to them. When my yiayia passed away it was such difficult time because she passed too young. She was in and out of consciousness during her final days and it was so hard for all the family. I know that this album would have been such a meaningful thing to play for her during those long days.”
The album includes tracks such as Amazing Grace, Cornerstone, It Is Well With My Soul, O Lord You’re Beautiful, Psalm 23 and Great Is Thy Faithfulness, while three beautiful classical works are interwoven through ‘Sacred’ − Bach’s Ave Maria, the music from The Mission and the glorious melody Spiegel im Spiegel by Avo Part.
“It’s my joy to share with you this album and it is my hope that this music is not only a blessing to you personally, but also a wonderful gift for those in your life who are searching for comfort and peace.”
‘Sacred’ will be officially launched on 1 October at the CRC Churches International Convention and can be purchased at www.nikivasilakis.com